Paint a Galaxy

Watercoloring effects using Salt and Rice

Infinite vastness. Starry skies. With ABT Dual Brush Pens, you can create your own galaxy in just a few steps. For this, you won’t need any unusual materials, but rather simple household items such as salt or rice. 

Melanie from Süßholzdesign will explain step-by-step how you can mimic impressive watercoloring effects to create your own galaxy. 


Mask off your drawing area using masking tape or washi tape. This will give your galaxy straight edges at the end. 

Tip: Check in advance if the adhesive tape can be removed without damaging the paper.

You can now apply the paint for your galaxy on the blending palette or the porcelain plate. I used ABT-493, ABT-606, ABT-569, ABT-676,ABT-725, ABT-815; ABT-131 und ABT-055 for this.

Now let’s get started. 

Step 1: The Background

First, prime the surface with water and spread the paint from the blending palette or porcelain plate onto the wet surface by carefully dabbing it with the brush. You’ll see right away how the paint spreads naturally in the water. This watercolor technique is called the wet-on-wet (or ‘alla prima’) technique and it is particularly suitable for flowing, uncontrolled backgrounds. 

Tip: If an area gets too dark, you can lighten it up again with a little water. 

Step 2: Paint Splatters

The wet surface is then decorated with additional paint splatters. To do this, you can simply tap the ABT Dual Brush Pen against a second pen to create fine paint splatters. 

Depending on your preference, you can use salt in different grains or rice for watercoloring effects. The amount of water as well as the amount of salt decide on the result. A lot of water and a lot of salt take away so much water and color pigment from your picture that only around the grains of salt an intensive edge will stay. If you use the salt sparingly, you will get white spots with a smaller dark centre. It would be better to test it on your own first so that you get a feeling for the right amount and the desired effect.

Step 3: The Salt Effect

Now sprinkle the salt in the paint while it’s still wet. In addition to conventional table salt, you can also use coarse salt as well as rice grains, as in our example. Simply try out various effects to find what you like best.

Important: Now let the surface dry thoroughly before removing the grains of salt from the paper using a clean, dry brush. 

Step 4: The Lettering

After drying, the lettering can be placed over the watercolor background.  If you are feeling unsure, draw the lettering lightly first using a pencil and fill it in with a brush pen afterwards!

Have fun – and stay creative!

Try it out yourself right now and share your Galaxy picture with the Tombow family under #tombowinspiration.

About the author


- Melanie Robinet

Melanie Robinet is equally at home with illustrating or lettering and also knows how to combine the two. In her mostly colourful works, she uses various artistic techniques from classic drawing and watercolour to high and low pressure. 

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